crafts · Sewing

What’s your philosophy on mistakes?

When taking up any new hobby it’s important to consider your philosophy on mistakes.  Because trust me, you will be making them.  Will you cry and throw the item across the room? (Ok, everyone does this one sometimes!) Or will you make the best of your error, learn from it, and move on?

One comment I see a lot from beginners in any craft is that they are afraid to try new techniques lest they make mistakes.  But making mistakes is part of the process of learning!  I really hate to see that comment, because I believe that you can learn to do just about anything if you break it down into manageable steps, and accept that there will be mistakes.  I make them all the time.  For instance:  I’m working on Vogue 8577, a 50s style dress with a big circle skirt.  Here is the dress (sans lining) on the dressform:

Notice anything off?  How about in the back view?

Doesn’t look much like a circle skirt does it?  That’s because I somehow managed to not put in the side  panels when I sewed the skirt together.  When I went to sew the skirt to the bodice I thought:  “Hmm, strange that it tells me to gather the skirt when I don’t need any gathers!”  I thought I had found a misprint.  Ha!  But here’s the thing:  I tried on the dress before I noticed the mistake, and I love it.  Not having those panels makes it look more 40s than 50s, which is fine by me.  The hemline hangs fine.  The seams all line up.  So I’m not going back and adding those panels (I already trimmed my seams anyway) and I’m not sewing them in the lining.  It won’t look like the pattern envelope, but it will be fabulous nonetheless!  It doesn’t fit my dressform, which is about 1.5″ bigger than I in the bust, but it fits me great!

So back to the topic of the day: handling mistakes.  Sometimes you get lucky, like I did here, and your mistake turns out well.  Other times not so much, but as long as you’re learning that’s ok.  When I pick a new sewing project here’s what I do: I try to find a pattern that has one or two things I don’t know how to do, and I learn how to do them.  In this case it’s making a full lining and hemming a full skirt (not as full as I intended, but still a challenge!)  Don’t choose something too hard – you want to avoid frustration!  Just pick something that is a little challenging, enough to push your skill set forward.  And I always make a muslin if I can, so that I get practice before doing the actual garment (I made the lining, in this case, and practiced hemming that.  I didn’t need to practice the lining, since it’s basically just making the dress twice, albeit out of bemberg rayon, the most difficult fabric in the world.)

Don’t let fear hold you back – what’s the worst that can happen?  Do you have a good philosophy on mistakes?